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The publicans of an historic Hertfordshire pub have been honoured with a prestigious award to celebrate more than 30 years’ service at the helm of the much-loved local.

Graham and Brenda Dovey of the Grade II listed Goat Inn in Codicote were presented with their long service award by the building’s owners, Star Pubs & Bars, in recognition of their contribution to the pub and the community during the last three decades. The award is the second received by the couple in recent months, having also been given a Community Pub of the Year award by North Hertfordshire Campaign for Real Ale.

The Doveys took over The Goat Inn in 1992, transforming it from a rundown local into a great quality family friendly pub and the heart of village life. A hub of Codicote, The Goat Inn holds regular activities such as quizzes and cribbage to bring people together. It helps the village mark major events – from the World Cup to the Coronation – as well as local traditions like Codicote Village Day. There are parties for New Year’s Eve, St George’s Day, Halloween and Christmas – complete with Santa and wreath-making – and a harvest festival service in aid of the church’s maintenance fund. Whenever possible, the pub fundraises for good causes, raising more than £20,000 for Hertfordshire charities, including the Isabel Hospice, since the Doveys took the helm.

Throughout their tenure, the Doveys have put The Goat Inn on the map for music, holding regular live music nights and nurturing up and coming musicians from across Hertfordshire, with artists like James Bay performing there in their early days. The pub was the original venue for the now well-known Goatfest, an annual August Bank Holiday music festival that started out as a music day in The Goat’s garden in 2009.

Whilst the Doveys have moved The Goat Inn with the times in many ways, they have kept its traditional feel. Thought to date back to around 1590, The Goat was originally a farmhouse before being converted to a pub in the eighteenth century. All its old features – including wooden beams, an inglenook fireplace and horse brasses – have been lovingly maintained by Graham and Brenda, and the duo have redecorated the pub many times over to keep it in top condition. To provide extra facilities for the village, they have installed a children’s play area and turned the previously disused seventeenth-century barn into a function room that hosts celebrations from birthdays to weddings for villagers.

On the drink and food front, the pub is old-school, too. It is known for its cask ales and good pub grub, especially its Sunday lunches and its famous fish and chips. Served on Thursdays and Fridays, they are made from cod delivered fresh from Grimsby and cooked in homemade beer batter.

Graham and Brenda fell into taking over The Goat Inn by chance. Having just sold a glass fibre business in 1990, the couple – who were keen pubgoers – decided to try their hand at running a pub in Kings Langley for a year. Recalls Graham: “While we were there a friend told us The Goat Inn was available, so we went to take a look. We fell in love with it, and the rest is history. We never thought we’d be here this long but we’re still having fun. We feel very lucky to have found The Goat Inn –- it's the people who make a pub, and Codicote is a wonderfully friendly village.

Says Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager Dan Hayward: “It’s an enormous honour to present this award. The Goat Inn is a truly superb pub, and it’s all down to Graham and Brenda’s hard work and dedication over three decades. They are passionate about creating a great pub for the village to enjoy and contributing to local life in any way they can. There’s always a warm welcome at The Goat Inn, and there’s something for everyone.”